By Tim Robinson
Special for Second Half
LANSING — All athletes make adjustments during their events, but few work out as well as the one Hanover-Horton's Kassidy Alexander made during the Division 4 girls bowling singles championship match Saturday at Royal Scot.
Alexander, a junior, was dueling with Bronson's Dakota Smith, winning by four pins in the first game. In the second game, she didn't like the way her ball was responding.
"It wasn't coming into the pocket correctly," she said. "I was leaving 10-pins everywhere."
So she consulted with her father, Arron, who also is her coach. He suggested she move one board to her right on her approach.
The move, less than an inch, paid off.
"He spotted it," Kassidy sad. "I was thinking about moving over, but I didn't want to change anything that serious."
Alexander won the second game by three pins, but needed, and got, two strikes in the 10th frame to pull out the 371-364 win.
It was the second trip to the finals for Smith, who lost in the 2019 championship match to Mackenzie Johnson of Vandercook Lake.
Alexander and Smith were familiar with each other from competition in summer leagues and again at last week's Division 4 Regional.
"Kassie respects her for how good a bowler she is and how passionate she is for the game," Arron Alexander said. "She appreciated ending the day by bowling against Dakota."
Kassidy's title was the second individual championship for the Comets, following Emma Davis' in 2015.
It's also the second MHSAA bowling title for the Alexander family. Older brother Justin was on the Hanover-Horton squad that won the Division 4 team title in 2015.
Justin wasn't able to see his sister bowl Saturday due to work obligations, but was a key supporter down the stretch.
"Through our Cascades (Conference) meet and at the Regional, he was there for her, helping her focus on her game," Arron Alexander said. "It was such a neat moment to watch them interact, being five years apart (in age). It makes for a proud dad."
Hunter Haldaman of Traverse City Christian, who won the boys title, took a different route to his championship.
He won his opening match against Unionville-Sebewaing's Ethan Androl by 49 pins. Androl won the second game, but not by enough to make a dent in a match Haldaman claimed 404-373.
"I had a strike in the first frame and had a good line going," Haldaman said. "I was confident in that shot, and it worked out from there."
In the second game, "our goal was to fill frames," coach Brent Wheat said. "We wanted to make our spares and try and match him the best we could."
Androl won the second game by 18 pins, but Haldaman had a strike in the ninth frame to put the match out of reach.
"It was a good feeling," Wheat said with a chuckle of relief. "I figured one good ball in the 10th, and we had it. But when he had a strike in the ninth, we put the pressure on (Androl) to make the shot in the end."
Haldaman, who won the Sabres' first individual bowling title, got into the sport through his grandparents, who took him and his brother bowling on a weekly basis while they were young.
"I played soccer in elementary school," he said. "I didn't have a passion for it, but I have a passion for bowling."
Like Alexander, Haldaman worked on his game between his sophomore and junior years, learning the mental aspect of the game as well as fundamentals like reading lane conditions.
Although he was leading overall throughout the second game, Haldaman didn't think he had the title sewn up until the 10th frame.
"You notice the lead, but that could change at any point in time," he said. "I was just taking it shot by shot, frame by frame. That's the way to do it."
And, for both, that resulted in a Division 4 Finals title and motivation for next year, when they're both seniors.
"I would love to come back as a senior," Haldaman said.